• In Part 4 of our series profiling APPEX 24 exhibitors, Craig Salkeld from Columbit provides his insights on the state of the industry and what APPEX 24 means for the company.
    In Part 4 of our series profiling APPEX 24 exhibitors, Craig Salkeld from Columbit provides his insights on the state of the industry and what APPEX 24 means for the company.
  • Columbit's rendering line solution
    Columbit's rendering line solution
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In this new content series, Food & Drink Business takes a closer look at the opportunities inherent in the fast-evolving food processing industry, with insights from leaders at companies which have signed up to exhibit at APPEX 24.

This month we speak to Craig Salkeld from Columbit.

The Australian manufacturing sector is at a critical juncture as it seeks to grow onshore capacity and capability while remaining globally competitive. With reference to your business, what do you see as a) the key challenges and b) the main growth opportunities inherent to this dynamic sector?

Parts and service availability have become a major challenge for many suppliers, highly skilled service personnel and electronic parts are in reduced supply. Our own experience has been to increase parts holdings, recruit more local service/application personnel whilst also locating our European equipment suppliers service specialists in the region as a means of enabling growth.

A key challenge for food manufacturers is the absolute requirement for precision and control in the weight, dimensions and purity of every product. Contamination or inaccuracy require a high level of confidence in detection systems with the ability for data recording directly to company computer systems. Combination detection systems with higher reliability are the growth opportunity for our focus.

Lastly, in regards to automation, the growth challenge is to ensure ease of operation and servicing with long term equipment resilience. Whilst we retain trained specialist, it is at design stage that robotic capability is matched to the capacity required, ensuring consistent long term performance.

What role has automation played in growing your business and advancing your customers production performance?

Solutions in automation are an increasing part of Columbit’s offer to its customer. Whilst providing integrated lines for large scale factories repeatedly, what has become critical for a variety of customers is removing bottlenecks in factories that have a high labour requirement. Specifically targeted automation often is discreet and a relatively smaller part of a factory, yet critical to overall performance and yield. Equally this provides affordability with better payback, vital in an environment of adverse exchange rates and rising local costs.

What innovative technology/product/solution has your company brought to market recently that sets you apart from your competitors?

Our new generation Sparc label inspection machines, whether used for dairy, bakery, produce or protein, are available as standalone products or as part of a machine with other functionality such as check weighing or x-ray detection. The technology will inspect each label for the presence of a correct product description, date code, lot numbers, allergen ID codes and barcode. Products with faults are automatically pushed into a rejection bin, safeguarding against potentially business critical events where products are recalled. Information on reject products will automatically be tracked and corrected with our data collection software

Working with your customers, what key trends are you observing unfold in the Australasian food and beverage processing sector?

Combination products are a key trend, multiple food types brought together for instant meal or snack situations allowing huge scope for variants. These value offerings give increased convenience for entertaining or meals in ideal locations for the Instagram generation. A step on from ready meals and development of meals on the go for time poor consumers.Columbit's rendering line solution. 

Columbit's rendering line solution
Columbit's rendering line solution.

APPEX is a new, all-encompassing trade show for the processing and packaging industry. Your company has signed up as an exhibitor at the inaugural show in March 2024, what made it a compelling platform for your business?

Columbit covers a wide range of equipment for the food industry and the approach APPEX has taken will provide a unique opportunity for us to connect and exchange ideas with customers, prospects and the industry. It is a compelling event which will provide many solutions which can only make our industry stronger.

APPEX 2024 will be taking place from 12-15 March at the MCEC in Melbourne. Companies keen to participate can contact show organiser ETF here.

Packaging News

At The Hive Awards in Sydney today, the Best Packaging category was won by Don Smallgoods, part of George Weston Foods, for its resealable flow wrap pack for sandwich fillers and other smallgoods. This innovative packaging is a departure from the conventional thermoformed packs and addresses consumer demands for better functionality, sustainability, and product visibility.

Applications for the 2024 APCO Annual Awards are now open, and are open to all of industry to apply.

APCO has completed its nationwide roadshow engaging industry on its 2030 packaging strategy. Pippa Corry of philo & co attended the Sydney session and summarised the key takeaways for PKN.